In a tense night of football, Norwich outlasted Spurs, drawing 1-1 after extra-time and then winning 2-3 on penalties.
Spurs took the lead early into the game but Norwich equalised late on. The game went to a shootout where one man stood tallest of all. Who were the winners and losers? Read on!
Winner: Tim Krul
The big Dutch goalkeeper has shipped an avalanche of goals in the Premier League this season but that has largely been down to the defence in front of him. In terms of individual ability Krul is sensational, and of course when it comes to penalty shoot-outs he is something of a legend thanks to his shootout heroics (as a sub!) way back in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Today he played superbly during the actual game, making several solid stops and dominating his area for the most part. Then when it came to the penalty shootout he was in his element. He just missed out on saving Eric Dier’s penalty. He was wrongfooted by the two leftie Argentines but whilst Lo Celso scored, Lamela thundered his shot off the bar. Then with Norwich back in the tie, the big Dutchman won it for Norwich with two solid stops from Troy Parrott and Gedson Fernandes.
Krul will leave the stadium a hero and eyes will already be turning to their quarter-final tie. Both Derby and Manchester United will be acutely aware that they will need to finish the tie before penalties or be denied by the might of Tim Krul.
Loser: Michel Vorm
It has to be difficult when you’re a career back-up goalkeeper, but that is basically what Michel Vorm signed up to be when he left Swansea for Spurs six years ago. He’s played 47 games in that time, just 13 in the league, and has lately been reduced to third-choice goalkeeper.
Of course thanks to Hugo Lloris’ injury, Vorm is back to being a back-up which means he gets to play in the cups. So he started against Norwich and whilst he only conceded one goal during normal time, he never inspired confidence.
It was his first start for 18 months and, honestly, you could kind of tell. He fumbled a Lukas Rupp shot in the first-half and in the second-half palming Kenny McLean’s shot out right in front of him, then flapping at Josip Drmic as the strikebundled the ball home from close range to pull it level. It was a truly embarrassing mistake because for all their great play, Norwich never really looked like scoring and sure enough didn’t really trouble Vorm at all for the rest of the night.
Winner: Jan Vertonghen
In a season where Toby Alderweireld got a fat new contract, Jan Vertonghen can be slightly miffed that he hasn’t also been offered one even though his deal runs out this summer. He will want to play as dominantly as possible to either convince Spurs to renew him or to sufficiently impress another club to offer him an attractive contract.
And today he managed to make the kind of impact he will have been dreaming about. Defensively he got ripped apart by Norwich’s quick movement and passing, but in attack he made a few good raids and of course scored the opening goal of the game with a towering back-post header. It was a stunning goal and could help raise his profile just as silly season begins.
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
Loser: Mauricio Pochettino
Why is Pochettino a loser in a game he didn’t even manage in? Simple: Spurs’ two best players yet again were the two big money signings he made this summer but never really got to play. Giovani Lo Celso was the dominant player in the match with his lightning movement, intelligence and creativity (his free-kick assist for the opening goal was just sublime). And when Spurs were pegged back they brought Tanguy Ndombele off the bench and the Frenchman was instantly superb – dictating the tempo of the game.
Obviously complacency set in during the start of the season under Pochettino and was the reason for the horrible form that got him sacked, but part of that complacency came from the fact that Lo Celso and Ndombele, genuinely transformative players in the middle of the pitch, spent the vast majority of the first half of the season out injured. As the pair showed against Norwich they can bend the entire Spurs team and system to their will – imagine what they could have done if fully fit in the same side as Harry Kane and Heung-min Son?
Winner: Ben Godfrey
The drama of extra time and Norwich’s penalty shootout win were only possible because of a moment that will be easily forgotten. A moment of simplistic defensive responsibility but that had an enormous impact on the seasons of both Spurs and Norwich.
With five minutes to go, Giovani Lo Celso had the ball in the left half-space and picked out a sumptuous square pass to Serge Aurier. The Ivorian was in space and took aim and fired the ball at the far post. Tim Krul was beaten but Ben Godfrey slid across and cleared the ball off the line. It was a superb defensive intervention and kept Norwich alive for their miracle to happen later.
Loser: José Mourinho
Spurs are hideous to watch. They played a Norwich side that didn’t even play their best striker and lost their best playmaker to injury. They played a Norwich side that are rock bottom of the Premier League and look sure to get relegated because for all their pretty football they cannot defend and constantly get caught out.
This game was tailor-made for José Mourinho to play his classic counter-attacking gameplan and kill Norwich. They even bagged an early set-piece goal for the perfect set-up, but the lack of organisation in their attacking structure was painful to watch. Obviously Spurs have injuries, but Mourinho’s inability to structure his team’s attack is a long-standing issue that has plagued him for years.
Now they’re out of the FA Cup, almost out of the Champions League and their questionable form (they’ve now lost four straight games across all competitions) is going to make finishing top four a challenge too. Spurs spent big to get Mourinho and they could regret that.